2009/05/18 "Representative of Ministry of Defense: ‘What Sufferings…?’"
  • Press Release No. 40/1183
  • May 18, 2009

Today on May 18, 2009, the Domodedovsky City Court of Moscow Region has started the examination of the claim filed by the Mother's Right Foundation on behalf of Rimma Valentinovna Zakharova, resident of Orenburg, whose son died in military service.

Her son, Sergey Zakharov (b. 1988), sergeant of military unit No.41600, died on December 29, 2007 from reflex cardiac standstill caused by a fatal blow dealt to him by a captain of the same military unit.

A year ago, the Mother's Right Foundation represented Sergey Zakharov's parent's interests in two legal proceedings, accusing captain Classen (violence case) and captain Melnikov (murder case); both served in military unit No.41600.

It was found out that the tide of violence had overwhelmed the unit. At that moment, besides Melnikov and Classen, lieutenant Artyukhov was charged with unauthorized relationships (hazing), and one of Classen's victims had been a convicted defendant.

Captain Melnikov was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment under article 286, section 3, paragraphs "a" and "с" (abuse of authority with grave consequences), and article 344 (violation of regulations). Captain Classen was sentenced to 3 years of probation under article 286, section 3, paragraph "a" (abuse of authority).

At present, the Mother's Right Foundation demands that the guilty military unit and the Ministry of Defence should pay compensation for moral damage to the mother of the dead soldier.

Tatyana Sladkova, lawyer of the Mother's right Foundation, represented the dead soldier's mother's interests. She told the court that both the military unit and the Ministry of Defense were responsible for Classen and Melnikov's acts, and therefore must pay moral damages.

 In her speech, the Mother's Right Foundation lawyer also made references to two accusations against military unit 41600, submitted by public prosecutors on December 14, 2007 and February 11, 2008. Arguments listed in these documents proved that besides Classen and Melnikov's personal indiscipline, Melnikov's non-performance of his duties was a cause of the accident.  (In their statement of defense, the defendants tried to prove that those accusations had never been issued by public prosecutors.)

Today's proceeding was attended by two defendant's representatives, lieutenant Lysenko of military unit No. 41600 and senior lieutenant Shapovalov of the Ministry of Defense. While the military unit's representative kept silent, the representative of the Ministry of Defense was ‘eloquent'.  

Following Shapovalov's illogical arguments, the Ministry of Defense mustn't be responsible for the illegal and criminal acts of their officials, because those officials miraculously ceased to be officials in military service at the moment of committing the crime. Our arguments made Shapovalov indignant:

‘The Ministry of Defense mustn't be responsible for Classen and Melnikov's acts. Following your logic our Government should be responsible for everything. Supposing somebody attacks me in the street-does this mean I should claim against the Ministry of Defense?' reasoned the cheerful representative. At the end of his speech he pronounced a masterpiece of a phrase, ‘Zakharova has not proved that her suffering is caused by her son's death.' 

The judge, Svetlana Nikolayevna Popova, specified, ‘Won't a death certificate be enough?'

Here is a quote from R. V. Zakharova's speech in the court:

‘Since December 29, 2007, I've been in emotional shock. Until now we can't believe that our younger son, who was 195 cm tall, a sportsman, the life and soul of any party, a person who had certificates of good service and conduct, was killed by a serviceman. We have been always worrying about soldiers suffering from abuse in the Army, especially about Sychev, who had lost both of his legs. We kept telling Sergey, who at the time was a sergeant, assistant chief of a retransmission station, that he should not offend soldiers, because all of them had parents, who, like us, were waiting for them. We could hardly imagine that this could happen to him.' (...)

‘It's hard to watch his father hide and cry. He blames himself of having allowed his son to go to the Army. When seeing Sergey off to the Army his father told him that from then on his commanders would be his fathers. Now he is accusing himself of speaking in favour of military service. He used to say that a young man should be a serviceman and a good defender of his Motherland. Both father and Sergey's elder brother had been soldiers, so he wanted to go to the Army as well. He succeeded in getting into the Army in spite of the fact that he was not fit for military service because of his leg trauma' (...)  

‘Nothing is left but photos. They show that Sergey was popular everywhere - among his school friends, neighbours, and college students. He was a permanent host of college concerts. He was a very active, purposeful and cheerful boy. He could have become a good husband and father, and a successful man. 

Waiting for our son's return from the Army we started remodeling his room. We covered his room's walls with sunny wallpapers, put sunny linoleum on the floor, and bought new furniture. The only thing left was to hang the blinds. Now-nobody enters the room. 

Sometimes we watch video films of the kindergarten morning performances, in which Sergey is dancing and reading poems. But till now we have no answer to the questions: How was it possible to murder our child, a citizen of Russia? How are we supposed to live without Sergey?'

When Mr. Shapovalov realized that he was the only person doubting that the son's death could be the cause of the mother's moral damages, he made an attempt to prove that the military unit did not belong to the Ministry of Defense.

However, Lysenko, representative of the military unit, did not support the representative of the Ministry of Defense. He declared that their unit belonged directly to the Ministry of Defense...

The next hearing in this case is scheduled for June 5, 2009 - 3:30 p.m. Watch closely the Foundation's press-releases!

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